A Girl's Guide to Looking Like You Live in London
Nov 8 2012
Just the other day I heard that, this year, London was voted Style Capital of the World. Being that this is the city I was born and currently reside in, this made me feel extremely proud, until I had a look around me and thought: 'WTF?' I mean, no offence, but some of you types who come in on the trains from the provinces could really use a few lessons in how to "do" Peckham rude-girl goth, or ageing-gracefully Hampstead journalist.
In a city that receives 178,000 new residents every year, we know it can be hard to drag yourself out of bed every morning not knowing which fashion sect you belong to. This time around, we decided we'd use our sartorial expertise to help you out with something much more complicated than having sex with your friend's dad or going through a meltdown: How to live in London and dress in a way that doesn't make people want to spit at you in the street.
So no more tearing Vogue to bits with your un-whitened teeth for you, young lady. We are about to spill the lo-carb beans on how best to suck up to anyone you need to in London, whether they be people who occasionally fantasise about eloping with their slaves, art homosexuals, or loud girls on buses whose slang you don't understand. Remember: We're not here to judge your ambitions or the company you keep, just your dress sense.
(clockwise from top left): Dents faux fur hat, Vivienne Westwood jacket, ASOS boots, Hobbs NW3 trousers, Hobbs NW3 skirt, Korres brightening moisturiser, Hobbs NW3 top.
If you live in North London, chances are you are some combination of Jew, banker, journalist and poet. In order to adequately cover all bases, I’ve come up with a selection of clothes that will make you look like a wistful trust fund novelist with parents who can't understand your reluctance to exploit their connections at the Jewish Chronicle.
Unless you’re a Primrose Hillbilly, which falls under the N(early)W(est) postcode barrier anyway, you need to make champagne socialism your life. You need to turn yourself into a walking monument to this contradiction – so while North London is proud of its greenery, Hunter wellies and Barbour are only acceptable if they're legit muddy/inherited. If you're gonna be wearing them brand new in summer, consider re-locating your spiritual home to Sloane Square.
Use modest but noticeable eyeliner so that people can see how great you look every time you roll your eyes at how bouji and stuffy West London is. Wear a stupid hat so that you can walk through Camden without the noodle board punks thinking you're square. Use moisturising and brightening cream so that your face shines beneath the lights of all the "real" pubs you'll be drinking in. People in North London tend to be really proud of their "working class heritage", so think of a kind of labour your surname could have developed from, and then hammer that fucking point home harder than your polished cement countertops.
WEST (clockwise from top left): Alexander Wang jumper, Helmut Lang leather leggings, Topshop shorts, COS shirt, Converse trainers, Alexander Wang top, J Brand jeans, Alexander Wang purse.
W-postcode ladies, you really don't like being English, do you? Seeing as about 90 percent of West London's population are people with an adventurous gene pool and air miles, if you want to look native to Chelsea, it's probably because you're craving a little "exotic glamour". Why the fuck you'd want to do that is beyond us. Maybe you're tired of your skinny jeans and your "friends" sending your picture in to Epic Eccie Faces every week? Maybe you've been invited to a strange multi-culti dinner at Benihana and feel uncomfortable enough in your own skin to want to look the part? Either way, both boil down to the same thing: You need to look like someone who speaks more than one language. Oh, and you need to be fluent in boot-cut. Sawree.
In much the same way that everybody knows the legendary W2 combination of olive skin and blue eyes is 100 percent artificial, no amount of oversized bombers, tatty baseball caps or brothel-creepers slapped on a West London girl will look natural anywhere except a music PR office in South Kensington. She might desperately want to change her image (for a year, while she tries out St Martins), but she's spent too much of her life walking the sand of Greek islands in Gina heels for it to be physically possible.
This desire to be considered trendy makes our job a whole lot easier. Poshos are highly fashion-literate in a very "I read Vogue three times at the hairdresser" kind of way – but the trends she's brushing up on have their roots in the streets she hasn't walked since Addison Lee BC. Just round up a few of last year's key trends: crop tees, high-waisted jeans and dyed hair ends, for example, then pair them up with some rich girl staples like cream hi-top Converses, or a COS see-through shirt (they all love shopping at COS, it makes them feel down to earth). Et voila, you look rich and pathetic. Things only get tricky when it comes to the handbag as this absolutely has to be expensive. If you can get your hands on a Mulberry Alexa you're pretty safe, but DO NOT ever do Longchamp, what are you, fucking 14 and trying to fit in at the Lycee?
Make-up styles aren't that important (they do wear the most expensive shit, but let's be honest, who the fuck knows) but you absolutely need to check before leaving the house that you look impeccable. Your hair should be perfectly straightened, your shoes polished and your face clean. Even the slightest of creases on your clothes can give you away; they all have maids, you see. One final point of note is that rich West London girls often have deodorant stains on their tops, because they really have no idea what they're doing and they won't notice unless you tell them. Don't tell them.
That's it, have fun spending a couple hundred quid on three drinks, and your soul on a couple of lines! Oh and remember, never sign the pre-nup.
(clockwise from top left): Nike sweatshirt, Comme '2' perfume, Nike joggers, Reebok classics, HM Samuel earrings, Dove deodorant, MHL by Margaret Howell duffel coat, Fjallraven backpack, MHL by Margaret Howell jumper, Mac lipglass in Pink Poodle.
The basic geography of living in South means that, by default, you’re arty and free from the shackles of The City, and therefore exist in what is immediately the coolest of all London postcodes. In order to properly propel yourself to the front row of anti-fashion, try to disorientate those conventional people across the river by combining a socio-political awareness with a love of sweatshop sportswear. Argue that you at once represent all minorities and majorities, and by consuming like an average consumer, you’re actually infiltrating the minds of the working class. South London fashion is usually "all black everything", but occasionally you can work in a bit of navy boiled wool or a stiff canvas anorak. Wear boy shoes.
Remember that it is your duty to uphold the entire reputation of South London whenever you leave it, so ensure you have rolling tobacco glued to one hand, and a not-ironic ironic monogrammed phone-case gripped in the other. When (or if, because this may never happen) you get dressed up smart, you’ll either opt for "killer sexy crazy bitch" because you never normally get to show off your slammin bod, or structured metallic shift with hair extension applique, because you’re arty, remember?
All of your friends probably suck and have really annoying whiney voices, and you’re probably either a way too nice or totally awful person. But why the hell are you going to care about that when you’re off your face on pocket nozzle at an amazing party in Peckham having the time of your fucking life?
(clockwise from top left): American Apparel fishnet socks, Topshop top, Cecilia Hammarborg Hackney coat, Martine Rose X Caterpillar for ASOS boots, Paul & Joe Sister skirt, chocker necklace from that box of old stuff you hide under your bed, MAC lipstick in Dark Side, butterfly hair clips from that box of old stuff you hide under your bed, Ecote backpack.
Weren't the 90s great? Chelsea Clinton wore double-breasted blazers, Brooke Shields smoked bongs and all that moolah blurred everyone's vision enough to blind them to the fact that Levi 501's made their crotch look like a bum and their bum look like a crotch. The current climate's desperate scraping for money has prompted a nostalgia for those simpler, skinnier times, a highly entertaining attempt to reclaim the very hip childhoods no one ever really had. This type of never quite grown-up ever person is very often seen living and socialising in London's Eastern boroughs.
If you would like to resemble a struggling graphic designer/photographer/enter-brand-of-creative-of-your-preference/aspiring model, you too are going to have to engage in a little misplaced nostalgia. If you're lucky, you may have even been born during the 90s (it's highly likely, since anyone who was old enough to be conscious during those years had enough the first time round). If so, all you have to do is Google search for Spice Girls posters, (Gianni) Versace campaigns and screen grabs from The Craft, and then copy the bits you like best shamelessly, down to Melissa Joan Hart's last butterfly hair clip. A-line, patent leather micro-minis, platform trainers, crop tops, neon geometric prints; you were hardly a person when all those things were happening, so no one can judge you for jumping on the bandwagon now that you have the tits and ass to fill them out and the lecherous, coke-addled male friends to notice that.
Be a little smarter if you want, and throw in some Princess Di tribute accents with a touch of 80s heritage here and there. Always balance a thrift store item with a shameless high-street Perry Ellis knock off, and top it all up with a really expensive wool coat. Remember – and this is of vital importance – to make sure the coat is threadbare and tattered, otherwise you'll look too similar to your more polished Northern sisters.
Lay off the Clarks, though. I don't care if the first time you felt a tingle in your pants was when the awkward teenage shop attendant brushed your toe while using that sliding foot measurer thingy, if I see one more person parading the tag of their brand new Clarks around, I'm going to have an aneurism.
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